What Exactly IS the Average Size of a Woman?

This post has been in my head for a few months now. Thanks to Bren over at My Girly Parts for reminding me to get it out.

What size do you consider to be “average” when it comes to women? 4? 6? 10? 12? 14?

First, let’s look at the definition of “average” according to Wikipedia:



The result obtained by adding several quantities together and average size womenthen dividing this total by the number of quantities; the mean.


Constituting the result obtained by adding together several quantities and then dividing this total by the number of quantities.


Amount to or achieve as an average rate or amount over a period of time: “annual inflation averaged 2.4 percent”.

Using this definition, it sounds like an average woman’s size is the one that is most predominant and at least in my group of friends and associates, those sizes are almost always 10 – 14.

If you put a group of 8 women in the same room, how many of them do you think would be a size 12?

I was recently at a client photo shoot and before the event, I had to compile a list of sizes of the 6 women that were being photographed. Out of the 6, 4 were size 12, 1 was size 10 and 1 was size 6. Add myself and my partner to the mix and that number went to 6 out of the 8 women were a size 12. I am not a math genius by any means, but I would venture to say that based on that scenario, size 12 wasn’t even the average, but rather the majority.

Maybe it’s just my group of friends, but I can’t imagine that this is an exception. So how is it that society continues to tell us that size 12 and up is considered “plus-size”. For that matter, why are we still using these terms (and what exactly IS considered plus-size?). Does it really matter? Why do we continue to obsess over it? If you’re happy with the way you look and you’re taking care of yourself why do you need to be slapped with a label that some editor of a fashion magazine or manufacturer of lingerie thinks fits?

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Until we “average” women start taking a not-so average stand against the stereotypes, it won’t end. Next thing you know, size 10 will be plus-size and then size 8. We already hear our daughters complain about being “fat”  as early as age 5 and 6. We have to start pushing back on the images that they see (hello, Victoria’s Secret?) and the words that they hear.

But, I have a challenge for you and this one may be hard to hear and tougher to swallow. It’s not just the message they hear from TV and read in the magazines. I hate to break it to you, but your daughter didn’t first hear these words from TV and magazines – She heard it from you. I know what kids are allowed to watch when they’re little and all the episodes of Dora, Blue’s Clues and Powerpuff Girls that I have seen, I never once heard anyone talk about fat butts and muffin tops. That came from you, Mom.

So, while I get bent out of shape every time I hear that the average woman is a size 6 and that size 12 is the new plus-size, I know that nothing’s going to change until we stop perpetuating the problem. I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a topic that I’m passionate about. We have to embrace the awesome women that we are because if we don’t, how do we expect anything will change with our daughters?

So tell me… what’s your definition of the average sized woman?


I love comments and respond to each one. I’m all for a good debate, but, I don’t like nasty comments. If it’s Janet Jackson “nasty” I’m cool with that, but any other kind of nasty will get deleted at my discretion. ‘mkay?

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February 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I love this post. It’s so true, unfortunately…so true. How many women constantly focus on their weight? I know too many to count. That’s why it’s always a hot topic and always obsessed about. I try very hard to focus on my character and HEALTH- instead of my weight. After all, I want my daughter to see me as an example of how to live. As women, there is so much more to us than our weight!!! Size 6-8-10 or 12. I always ask friends that are drowning in that area- “Do you think you will be in Heaven saying to yourself, oh dear…I SO wish I spent more of my life trying to be a size 6.” Reality check. Done!
Chris Carter recently posted..AH, THE SNOW DAY…AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!My Profile

    February 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    We ALL do. It’s been forced down our throats since we were babies. I should probably care more but the way I look at it – I’m in decent shape and as long as my clothes fit, I’m happy. I highly doubt that anyone gets to the end and thinks “man! I wish that I’d eaten more carrots.”

February 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Doesn’t it depend on your height and not on the average of women, overall? To your point, though, we have to stop obsessing over how other women look and be our most healthy selves. One of the things I struggle with are my gigantic cycling thighs. My body fat is very low, my weight is low, but in order to get jeans over my huge thighs, I have to buy two sizes larger than I normally would. I struggle with it because of the number instead of being gloriously happy I’m healthy and in shape.
Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) recently posted..Kill Influence Scores; Improve Influence MarketingMy Profile

    February 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Hey Gini! I don’t know WHAT it’s based on quite honestly. Nor do I know “who” came up with the average. I just hate that we as women (and society) get so obsessed with it. I hear you about the thighs except mine are the hips. And you are in rock awesome shape and should be proud of those thighs!!

February 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Great points! When the voices in my head start making me feel bad, I force myself to look at the real women around me and avoid the media for a few weeks. When you actually look at real women, you realize you’re totally fine — we all have wrinkles and sags and cellulite. Normal, normal, normal.
Rita Arens recently posted..The Birds Are BackMy Profile

    February 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Yes! And speaking of wrinkles.. is that going to be the next point of attack for common people? It’s obviously already big in the entertainment industry as each aging person’s skin gets tighter and tighter with surgery. When will we start being criticized for the fact that we haven’t had that kind of “work” done, too? The fact that there are Botox Parties happening makes me think it’s just a matter of time. Thanks for stopping by, by the way!
    Kristen Daukas recently posted..What Exactly IS the Average Size of a Woman?My Profile

February 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

This is a wonderful post, Kristen. I completely agree that culturally we glom together this silly notion that right is right, wrong is wrong, fat is you and skinny is someone else. Kudos to each one of us who embraces our inner voice, and lets it shine through whatever beautiful outside package holds us together.
Arminda recently posted..Cover: Minuet by J. S. BachMy Profile

February 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

As the father of a daughter I think about this often. It’s troubling to me to think about what she is being fed by society.
Josh recently posted..There Are Places I RememberMy Profile

    February 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    The other side of this coin is that the same society does it to the guys. As men and women, we should all just say “hey look… I’m no Victoria Secret model and you’re no Tatum Channing” and move on with it. I think your job as a dad raising a daughter is to remind her that men really don’t expect that look. Would it be nice? I dunno.. I’m not a guy. I know men are usually more visual and at the end of the day, we’re dealing with a visual situation.
    Kristen Daukas recently posted..What Exactly IS the Average Size of a Woman?My Profile

February 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

Oh man. This one hits me right between the eyes. Thanks for the kick in my (size 12) bootay.

February 12, 2013 at 8:36 am

Fab post Kristen! To me, average is between a 10-14, but I do have a bunch of girlies that fall into the 16 range. I flex btwn a 14-16 and I don’t consider myself Plus…. well maybe my boobs. 😉 But truly society is to blame for all this nonsense and to blame for all the anorexics and bulimics in the world. It’s sad to sad but the media IS our worse enemy. I think, if you have children, teach them right from wrong. I know peer pressure is horrible though, I’ve been there. I think women, use CURVY gals, need to rally together and start kicking society in it’s ding ding! I’m CURVY and I’m PROUD! 🙂
Bren recently posted..How to Sustain a Love RelationshipMy Profile

    February 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Anyone that considers a size 4-6 average either spends a huge amount of time at the gym or has never had kids. Not to mention, our bodies (after a certain age) aren’t wired to be that size. The one that really chaps my ass right now is Victoria’s Secret with their marketing scheme to create long term fans with their stupid Pink line which is aimed at the under 18 crowd.
    Kristen Daukas recently posted..What Exactly IS the Average Size of a Woman?My Profile

      February 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Victoria’s Secret is the worse with their models imo. I started following some plus size models on facebook and I have to say, they look like NORMAL gals to me and they are beautiful!
      Brenda recently posted..How to Sustain a Love RelationshipMy Profile

        February 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        Jenna Hatfield over at BlogHer took me to the line when I had my other post and she was right in one sense.. they skinny girls feel the same way when we look at them and say “eat a cheeseburger”. It’s just a point that we need to let it ALL go.. skinny, average, plus size, overweight. No matter what size you are, there’s an amazing person inside usually.

February 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

I fight this battle all the time – mostly with myself. In my head, I know what “average” looks like, but when I look in the mirror I am not happy. Since I have 3 daughters (10, 8, & 5) I am trying very hard to focus on being healthy and not necessarily being skinny.

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